Wednesday, 20 April 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 16, Garda Síochána Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed); and No. 2, Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill 2005 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members’ business shall be No. 43, motion re housing (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m.
The Taoiseach: I join the other party leaders in congratulating Pope Benedict XVI on his election. It is an occasion of great joy all around the country, not for just Catholics, but for everyone. It is a time of great hope for Christians and people of goodwill everywhere. The former Cardinal Ratzinger is a man who has given his life in faithful service to the church. He has worked hard as a theologian and scholar of considerable note from the time of the Second Vatical Council. That is a long time ago. Like every Pope before him, he will bring his own perspectives and talents to the papacy.
I take the opportunity to congratulate the new Pope on his election. I hope he will find the strength, the faith and the wisdom required to do a difficult job on the world stage in the years ahead. As I said yesterday, I hope that at some stage during his pontificate he will perhaps be able to take up the invitation Pope John Paul II accepted, to visit Ireland. I know Pope Benedict was here before, in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and perhaps he will visit Ireland again. I join Members of the House in wishing him well in his difficult role in the years ahead.
Mr. Kenny: I join the Taoiseach in congratulating Pope Benedict XVI and wish him every success in what is one of the most onerous and awesomely responsible positions in the world. The new Pope obviously has an unparalleled opportunity to effect greater unity and understanding between peoples and to encourage everyone of faith, and none, to work for a more just and caring world. The legacy his predecessor, Pope John Paul II left, and his identification of the great obstacles to the progress of humanity towards having life, food, peace and freedom are still huge challenges in which the new Pope can give his own form of leadership.
As the Taoiseach pointed out, he is a man with a brilliant mind and a long and active involvement in theology. He is also a deeply spiritual man. I pray, as do Catholics all over the world, that this deep sense of spirituality will help him to be the pastor the church desperately needs to deal with the serious challenges it faces in the years ahead. I hope he will be able to give guidance to the people of God, as it were, and above all lead and treat them with compassion and understanding. I share the Taoiseach’s view that he might be able to carry into effect Pope John Paul II’s intention to visit Ireland. Invitations for papal visits have probably flooded the Vatican already. Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI may choose to come to Ireland. I hope he does. I wish him well in his challenging role as the new pastor of the Roman Catholic Church. I pray that he will have the wisdom and compassion to face those challenges as he attempts to build an inclusive church during his remit.
Mr. Rabbitte: On behalf of the Labour Party, I join the Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael in congratulating Pope Benedict XVI and wish him well in his awesome task. He succeeds a Pope who was never afraid to tell the great and the good where he stood on matters of peace and war. It is noteworthy that his namesake, Pope Benedict XV, sought to exercise an influence in preventing the First World War. I hope that is an omen for the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.
I would like to believe there may be a change of direction in the governance of the Catholic church, in responding to the movement for social justice in South America and elsewhere in the world. I would like to believe the stance his predecessor adopted might be reviewed on the issue that is causing such devastation in Africa, the health-related and other matters that arise from the AIDS epidemic which is the cause of death for tens of thousands of people. On behalf of the Labour Party I join my colleagues in the House in offering the new Pope every good wish in his pontificate.
Mr. Sargent: On behalf of the Green Party, I, too, extend good wishes to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. I hope and pray he will have the courage, humility and the strength of spiritual leadership to confront the many challenges that currently face the world, wherever he may go, whether war, poverty or injustice, some within his own church. I hope he continues the enthusiastic work of his predecessor in drawing attention to and making a plea for what he termed an ecological conversion, namely, the compassion humanity and the wider web of life needs to confront the problems that have arisen as a result — as Pope John Paul II said — of the way humanity acted as “an autonomous despot” in relation to the rest of creation. This needs to be faced up to. That ecological conversion needs to be given practical effect.
As a Catholic from a reformed tradition, and on behalf of the many people who are not Roman Catholic, I hope the new Pope will continue the work of his predecessor in reaching out to other traditions. That is particularly pertinent and helpful on this island, as we hope to overcome many long years of intolerance and build a tolerant and mutually respectful society in which Pope Benedict XVI will I hope play an active and positive role.
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): I, too, join the other party leaders in congratulating Cardinal Ratzinger on his election as the 265th Pope. He comes to the papacy at a very challenging time for the Catholic church. Pope John Paul was admired for many reasons. It is difficult to think of anyone in modern times who has had so much influence for good. His stance on peace and human rights was greatly admired and inspired many people worldwide. The response to his death, particularly from young people, indicates that people want leadership and a spiritual dimension to their lives.
As a Catholic I certainly hope the role of the laity can be taken more seriously in the church, and that the different perspectives can be harnessed, particularly the role of women. Pope Benedict XVI will have many challenges to face. He is a scholar, a theologian and he has a brilliant mind. The greatest challenge he faces at a time of enormous change in the world is to inspire and to lead Catholics, and through this to have closer relationships with people in other churches. The challenges facing the papacy today are different from those in the past. Deputy Rabbitte referred to the AIDS crisis and there are many other issues. There is perhaps no one else in the world with as much influence for good as the Pope. I wish him well in the challenging times ahead in mobilising his influence to bring greater justice to the world.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Cosúil leis na daoine eile a labhair romham ba mhaith liom deá-ghuí a chur chuig an Papa nua agus go n-éireodh leis san obair mhór roimhe. Is léir go bhfuil a lán fadhbanna agus díospóireacht le theacht san Eaglais Chaitliceach. Beidh sé de dhualgas ar an cheannaire nua na heaglaise seo déileáil leis na fadhbanna agus díospóireachtaí sin go hoscailte agus éisteacht agus meas a thabhairt le gach tuairim a chuirfear roimhe agus roimh an eaglais. Ní hiad na cléir bunús na heaglaise ach na gnáthdhaoine agus tá a lán daoine ag déanamh oibre maithe i measc pobal áitiúla timpeall an domhain agus ar son na córa. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh a lán acu chun cinn amach anseo san Eaglais Chaitliceach.
Mr. Kenny: When will the building societies amendment Bill and the alcohol products control of advertising, sponsorship and marketing practices/sales promotions Bill be published? The latter was expected in late 2005.
The Taoiseach: The heads of the building societies amendment Bill have been approved and the Bill is due for the autumn session. The alcohol products Bill is due late this year but it may be next year when it is taken.
Ms O. Mitchell: I have a report from the former Minister, Senator O’Rourke, who is soon to return to the Dáil, dated May 2000, which promised the liberalisation of the Dublin bus market. Would it be premature five years later to ask whether legislation in this area is a serious promise?
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